Whitley David Merrifield
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 175 lb.
- School University of South Carolina
- High School Davie County High School
- Debut May 18, 2016
Whit Merrifield, the son of Bill Merrifield, began his professional career in 2010.
He was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the 9th round of the 2010 amateur draft after hitting .329 with 27 home runs, 197 runs, 106 RBI and 38 stolen bases in three years at University of South Carolina.
The speedy outfielder had 24 stolen bases in 2011, 28 in 2012 and 17 in 2013. He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2013 and hit .340/.373/.474 with 11 stolen bases and 109 hits in 76 games for the Omaha Storm Chasers. As a whole, he hit .319/.371/.470 with 16 steals in 120 games as he hit .278/.366/.463 in 44 games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. He began 2015 with Omaha.
He made his major league debut for the Royals on May 18, 2016, getting his first major league hit that day. He split his time between left field, second and third base in his first month in the majors, showing some solid hitting skills. From May 23-June 1, he had a nine-game hitting streak during which he went 16 for 42 (.381). On June 13th, he hit a triple and also his first career home run to lead the Royals to a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians; the long ball came off Carlos Carrasco. He played 81 games in the majors, hitting .283 with 2 homers and 29 RBIs while scoring 44 runs.
In 2017, he lost a spring training battle for the starting second base job to Raul Mondesi and began the season in Omaha. He hit a scorching .412 in 9 games and was soon back in Kansas City, taking over for Mondesi when the latter failed to hit. On May 29th, in a game against the Detroit Tigers he made an unsuccessful bid to become the first Royals player to hit for the cycle since the great George Brett in 1990. He homered off Daniel Norris in his first at-bat, then followed with a triple and a double, but he flied out in his last plate appearance as the Royals lost, 10-7. This game was part of a 19-game hitting streak that ended on June 5th, the longest in the majors at that point of the season. On August 29th, his 3rd inning homer off Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays with two outs in the 3rd snapped a 45-inning scoreless streak by the Royals, just three innings shy of the major league record. The Royals went on to win the game, 6-2. On September 20th, he broke Toronto Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez's streak of not giving up an earned run all year, spread among two minor league teams and the Blue Jays, with a lead-off homer in the 6th inning. The Royals eventually scored four runs by the time the inning ended, on their way to a 15-5 win. He finished the season at .288 in 145 games, with 32 doubles, 6 triples and 19 homers. He scored 80 runs and drove in 78 and led the American League with 34 stolen bases.
Merrifield had another strong season for a poor team in 2018, leading the AL in both hits (192) and stolen bases (45) for a team that lost 104 games. He raised his batting average to .304, scored 88 runs, hit 43 doubles and drove in 60 runs. His OPS+ was 121. He played mainly second base in 2017 and 2018, but the latter season, also had 39 games in the outfield. He finished the season on a strong run, with hits in his last 20 games. He then started 2019 right where he left off, as he had pushed the hitting streak to 28 games on April 7th, two short of the franchise record set by Hall of Famer George Brett in 1980. He tied Brett's mark on April 9th and beat it the next day, but it was snapped at 31 games when he went hitless on April 11th.
- AL All-Star (2019)
- AL At-Bats Leader (2019)
- 2-time AL Hits Leader (2018 & 2019)
- AL Singles Leader (2019)
- AL Triples Leader (2019)
- 2-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (2017 & 2018)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2019)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2019)